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Resurrecting ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ at Lyric Opera of Chicago


Lyric Opera’s sixth annual spring Broadway show is the first one to depart from the American musical canon.

Born in Britain, “Jesus Christ Superstar” began as a concept album in 1970 with music by a 23-year-old Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyricist Tim Rice. The rock opera was first staged in 1971 and made into a film in 1973.

This version is an expanded adaptation of director Timothy Sheader’s production that wowed critics at London’s Regent Park Open-Air Theatre festival in 2016.

  • Jo Lampert in Lyric Opera of Chicago’s production of “Jesus Christ Superstar.” (Photo credit: Todd Rosenberg)

    Jo Lampert in Lyric Opera of Chicago’s production of “Jesus Christ Superstar.” (Photo credit: Todd Rosenberg)

  • Michael Cunio in “Jesus Christ Superstar.” (Photo credit: Todd Rosenberg)

    Michael Cunio in “Jesus Christ Superstar.” (Photo credit: Todd Rosenberg)

  • The cast of “Jesus Christ Superstar.” (Photo credit: Todd Rosenberg)

    The cast of “Jesus Christ Superstar.” (Photo credit: Todd Rosenberg)

  • Heath Saunders, center, in “Jesus Christ Superstar.” (Photo credit: Todd Rosenberg)

    Heath Saunders, center, in “Jesus Christ Superstar.” (Photo credit: Todd Rosenberg)

Joining us in performance and discussion: Jo Lampert, who plays Mary Magdalene; and Michael Cunio, who portrays Pontius Pilate.

Video: Michael Cunio performs “Pilate’s Dream” accompanied on piano by Bill Billingham.


Lyric’s “Jesus Christ Superstar,” by the numbers:

• 80-plus artists on stage, including:
• 9 principal singers
• 37 musicians
• 39 ensemble members (13 from the Lyric Opera Chorus)
• 24 musical numbers
• 56 microphones
• 37 feet: height of cross
• 101 lights illuminating cross
• 150-plus costumes
• 28 feet: length of King Herod’s gold cape
• 112 pairs of sneakers for the cast
• 7 full-sized trees on stage
• 90 pounds of gold confetti at every show

“Jesus Christ Superstar” is on stage at Lyric Opera of Chicago through May 20. For tickets and more information, visit Lyric’s website.

Lyric promo code

Lyric Opera is offering Channel 11 viewers a 20-percent discount to select performances of “Jesus Christ Superstar.” Use the promo code WTTW.


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